The special investigation team (SIT), formed to enquire into the worst-ever hooch tragedy incident, submitted the chargesheet before the court of chief judicial magistrate (CJM) at Goaghat.
The chargesheet, consisting of more than thousand pages, was filed against a total of 41 accused.
“We have filed the chargesheet under sections 120 B (punishment for criminal conspiracy), 328 (causing hurt by means of poison, etc., with intent to commit an offence) 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of Indian Penal Code read with Sec 55 of Assam Excise Act,” said Partha Protim Saikia, deputy superintendent of police, who heads the SIT.
“The sections which deal with penalty for altering or attempting to alter any denatured spirit that may be used for human consumption against fifteen accused persons whereas the remaining 26 accused persons were being chargesheeted under section 55 of Assam Excise Act,” added Saikia.
After receiving the chargesheet, the court registered the case as PRC no 418/19 and summoned all the accused to appear before the court on June 11.
“We have prayed before the court to grant permission to submit supplementary chargesheet in the interest of the case as there are some investigations need to be carried out,” Saikia said.
The SIT recorded statements of 65 witnesses including some of the victims which provided leads for investigation and helped in identification of culprits in supply and distribution of suspected spurious liquor.
In the chargesheet, it was mentioned by the SIT that methanol, which is considered as one the main elements in the production of spurious liquor, was being transported in tankers from Radiant Manufacturers Pvt. Ltd.’s distillery situated at Khatkhati in Karbi Anglong district to various parts of the country via Numaligarh Tiniali of National Highway 39.
When the tankers reached Juria Dolong near Nambor reserve forest one Ankur Phukan in connivance with one Nripen Thengal and others pilfered spirit from tankers transporting it which also included methanol.
During examination of victims admitted to Swahid Kushal Konwar civil hospital in Golaghat by the SIT symptoms broadly exhibited by patients included optic nerve damage, blurring and loss of vision, excessive sweating, restlessness, abdominal pain, vomiting, severe headache and cardio respiratory problems.
It is to be noted that on February 22, the Jorhat police registered a case on the basis of an FIR lodged by ASI Topeswar Das that four tea garden workers of Halmira tea estate died due to consumption of spurious local liquor (Sulai).
The hooch tragedy in Upper Assam’s Golaghat and Jorhat districts claimed more than 150 lives.
Halmira teas estate, the epicentre of the incident, is situated at a distance of 5 km from the district headquarters.
Even though the police have filed the chargesheet, the reports of the enquiry ordered by the deputy commissioner of Golaghat and the one-man inquiry commission formed by the state government are yet to be submitted.